Phillies

Vince Velasquez on brutal loss to Marlins: 'I'm flat-out embarrassed'

Vince Velasquez on brutal loss to Marlins: 'I'm flat-out embarrassed'

MIAMI — The Phillies rolled into South Florida feeling really good about themselves after a two-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox. Phillies pitching held one of the best offenses in baseball to just four runs in that series and now it was time to keep the party going against one of the worst offenses in baseball.

For a while Friday night, the party rocked on and everyone was having a good ol' time.

Then, out of nowhere, the septic system backed up.

Actually, there was nothing wrong with the plumbing at Marlins Park, but you get the odious imagery. Phillies pitcher Vince Velasquez let a seven-run lead get away in the third inning and the Phils went on to suffer an embarrassing 19-11 loss to the lowly Miami Marlins in the heat of a playoff race.

It was the first time the Phils blew a 7-0 lead and lost since August 2003.

“Unacceptable,” manager Gabe Kapler said afterward. “That’s a game we have to win.”

The night could not have started any better for Velasquez. He allowed just one base runner in the first two innings and took a 7-0 lead into the bottom of the third.

The Marlins tagged him for seven runs in that inning to tie the game. They also overcame a 9-7 deficit in the fifth inning on their way to hanging a 19-spot on the Phils. It’s worth noting that the Marlins had lost 16 of their previous 19 and six in a row. They’d scored just 13 runs total in that six-game losing streak.

Their offense got well against Phillies pitching. The Marlins had seven extra-base hits, including four homers. The only Phillies pitchers not to give up runs were reliever Juan Nicasio, who threw just two pitches before leaving with a sore shoulder, and utility man Sean Rodriguez, who threw two pitches in mop-up duty.

In addition to the poor pitching, the Phils played poor defense, particularly at third base, where Brad Miller and Maikel Franco both struggled. Franco made an error that helped fuel the Marlins’ five-run fifth inning. Four of those runs were unearned.

But the biggest problem the Phillies had on Friday night was Velasquez.

“I take full responsibility for the outcome of the game,” he said. “As a pitcher you want that run support. What more do you want than a 7-zero lead and you end up giving it up.

“I feel pretty embarrassed and disappointed.

“It’s a good sign that the bats are still alive. That’s a great sign that everyone is pulling through offensively. But I’m embarrassed that I couldn’t hold the lead and do my job as a pitcher and help the team on my behalf. I think as a team, we have to continue what we’re doing offensively. I’m flat-out embarrassed on my end. There should be no excuses for that.”

Kapler called it a “tough, tough loss,” and added, “We go up, 7-0, and we just didn’t make enough pitches. We weren’t able to put hitters away. We weren’t making enough plays on defense. We let a team back in the game that we shouldn’t have let back in the game. It’s that simple.

“We have to do a better job. We have to find ways to do a better job and then we have to quickly turn the page and come back and be ready to play tomorrow. Probably the most important thing we can do right now is have a short memory. Understand that this one sucks and that we have to protect an early lead and be better than that, and then come back tomorrow and be ready to play again.”

The Marlins’ seven-run rally in the third started when Velasquez hit a batter with an 0-2 pitch. Velasquez hit two batters in that inning and gave up five hits, including a three-run homer. Two innings later, Nick Pivetta allowed a go-ahead, two-run double to Neil Walker on an 0-2 pitch. Pivetta was charged with five runs in that inning, but only one was earned after an error by Franco.

Kapler probably could have gotten Velasquez out of the game sooner as the Marlins were pouring it on in the third.

“I think you wanted to display some confidence in a pitcher that’s been pretty good for us, give him a chance to get out of that, give him a chance to give us a little bit of length and not have to burn through the bullpen,” he said of Velasquez. “At that point, we had still all agreed he was our best option to get outs. He just wasn’t able to get it done.”

The Phillies, 2 1/2 games back in the wild-card race, needed to get greedy in this series, needed to play for the sweep. Now, they have to trust in struggling Zach Eflin on Saturday night before ace Aaron Nola goes on Sunday. The Phils have had a lot of problems with the Marlins this season. They are 6-8 against them. There are 35 games left and these next two games feel like must-wins.



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Indians' Shane Bieber pushes Phillies one step closer to the end

Indians' Shane Bieber pushes Phillies one step closer to the end

CLEVELAND — Time continues to run out for the Phillies.

They suffered a 5-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Friday night.

Meanwhile in Milwaukee, the Brewers hammered the Pittsburgh Pirates, 10-1.

These two outcomes dropped the Phillies five games back in the NL wild-card race with just 10 games to play. The math is against the Phillies. Their elimination number is down to five. If Milwaukee plays just .500 ball over its last eight games, the Phillies would have to go 10-0 just to tie. For a team that hasn’t won more than four games in a row all season, that’s bad news.

“We’ve got to win. Period,” Jay Bruce said. “Can’t worry about anything else. You listen. You read. You concern yourself too much about it and it doesn’t do any good. So we have to win and see what happens. There are no promises. But we know we can’t go where we want to go if we don’t win.”

The Phillies didn’t win Friday night because they did not get a good start from Drew Smyly and they did not hit Cleveland starter Shane Bieber.

The loss was the Phillies’ second in a row and it came with J.T. Realmuto, arguably the team’s MVP, getting the night off. Jean Segura also did not play because of a sore ankle.

Realmuto has carried the heaviest load of any catcher in baseball and manager Gabe Kapler decided to give him a recovery day on the opener of a crucial series. Kapler explained his reasons before the game (see story). Realmuto was not available before the game and he refused to speak with reporters after the game. He is expected to start behind the plate on Saturday night when Jason Vargas looks to stop the losing skid. Vargas has lasted just three innings in each of his last two starts.

Smyly allowed seven base runners and gave up four runs in the first two innings Friday night. He was gone after walking the first batter in the bottom of the third. The lefty appeared perturbed upon leaving the game, but it wasn’t with Kapler’s decision to pull him. The bullpen allowed just one run the rest of the way to keep the Phils in the game.

“I wasn’t upset,” Smyly said. “I was just upset with how the game went. I just wasn’t very good tonight at all. I wasn’t very good with my command and put the team in a hole.”

The Phillies got a two-run double from Maikel Franco, a late add to the starting lineup after Segura was scratched, in the fifth inning and that was the extent of their offense.

Bieber, a 24-year-old right-hander, scattered seven hits, walked none and struck out seven in 7 1/3 innings of work. He looked very much like the guy who was the MVP of the All-Star Game in July.

“He showed why he’s one of the best young pitchers in baseball,” Kapler said. “He brought his A-game tonight. He was able to execute all of his pitches, threw strikes, attacked the zone, and had some wipeout stuff below the zone.”

“He’s the true definition of a pitcher,” Bruce added. “He’s got good stuff, commands both sides of the plate and doesn’t give in. He’s very confident in every pitch he has. He did what he wanted tonight. He hit his spots, he got ahead, he finished guys with different pitches.”

Bieber, who is 15-7 with a 3.23 ERA this season, was a product of the 2016 draft. He went in the fourth round, which means there are 29 clubs out there kicking themselves for passing on him. The Phillies made four picks in that draft, including Mickey Moniak at No. 1 overall, before the Indians selected Bieber out of the University of California, Santa Barbara. The Phils selected pitcher Kevin Gowdy, infielder Cole Stobbe and pitcher Jo Jo Romero with their next three picks. Moniak played at Double A this season and Romero pitched at Double A and Triple A. Gowdy missed time recovering from Tommy John surgery and pitched at Lakewood this season. Stobbe also played there. Moniak, Stobbe and Gowdy were all chosen out of high school.

A familiar name closed the door for the Indians. Carlos Carrasco, the former Phillies prospect who was traded for Cliff Lee a decade ago, got the final four outs for the save. Carrasco is one of the game’s best inspirational stories. He was treated for leukemia this summer and is back helping the Indians in a playoff chase.

The 91-win Indians are tied with Tampa Bay for the second AL wild-card spot.



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Drew Smyly puts Phillies in an early hole they can't overcome against Indians

Drew Smyly puts Phillies in an early hole they can't overcome against Indians

BOX SCORE 

CLEVELAND — The Phillies moved one step closer to being eliminated from postseason contention in a 5-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Friday night.

The loss dropped the Phillies 4 ½ games out in the wild-card chase and they could be five out depending on the outcome of the Milwaukee-Pittsburgh game.

There are just 10 games remaining.

Like the Phillies, Cleveland is in must-win mode. The Indians (91-63) entered the night tied with Tampa Bay for the second American League wild-card spot.

The Phillies did not get a good start from lefty Drew Smyly.

The Indians, meanwhile, got a very good one from right-hander Shane Bieber. He gave up two runs over 7 1/3 innings.

The Phillies are 78-74. They need to win four of their final 10 games to have their first winning season since 2011.

Smyly’s night

It wasn’t good. He walked the first batter in the bottom of the third inning and was lifted by manager Gabe Kapler.

Smyly allowed the first four batters in the bottom of the first inning to reach base on a walk and three hits. Two of them scored. He gave up two more runs in the second inning. Both were unearned after a throwing error by Rhys Hoskins.

Smyly did not appear happy when Kapler pulled him from the game. But eight base runners in two-plus innings was a little much and the bullpen was able to settle things down and keep the game close.

Bieber’s night

The All-Star right-hander improved to 15-7 and lowered his ERA to 3.23.

He struck out seven and walked none. It was the eighth time this season that he’d registered at least seven strikeouts and no walks.

Bieber is a product of the 2016 draft. The Indians picked him in the fourth round out of the University of California, Santa Barbara. That was a notable draft for the Phillies because they had the first overall pick. They selected outfielder Mickey Moniak with that pick. The Phils picked pitcher Kevin Gowdy in the second round, infielder Cole Stobbe in the third round and pitcher Jo Jo Romero in the fourth round, 15 picks ahead of Bieber. Moniak played at Double A this season and Romero pitched at Double A and Triple A. Gowdy missed time recovering from Tommy John surgery and pitched at Lakewood this season. Stobbe also played there. Moniak, Stobbe and Gowdy were all chosen out of high school.

Carrasco comes up big

Carlos Carrasco, the former Phillies prospect who was traded to the Indians in the Cliff Lee deal a decade ago, registered a huge out when he retired Jay Bruce on a ground ball with runners on the corners to end the top of the eighth. Bruce could have tied the game with one swing, but Carrasco won the battle.

Carrasco is winning another battle, as well. He was treated for leukemia earlier this summer and has made it back to help the Indians’ playoff chase.

Carrasco stayed on for the ninth inning and got the save.

Scratched

Shortstop Jean Segura was a late scratch from the starting lineup. He has a sore left ankle. Maikel Franco was inserted into the lineup at third base and Scott Kingery moved over to shortstop. Franco drove in the Phillies’ runs with a double in the fifth.

Realmuto rests

Kapler gave J.T. Realmuto a rest at a crucial point of the season. The manager explained why (see story).

Up next

The series continues Saturday night. Jason Vargas (6-8, 4.48) pitches for the Phillies against Cleveland right-hander Zach Plesac (8-6, 3.64). Yes, he’s Dan’s nephew.



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